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Book Title: Earth Abides|
The author of the book: George R. Stewart
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1908 times
Reader ratings: 4.7
Edition: Houghton Mifflin
Date of issue: 1969
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 28.19 MB
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”The trouble you’re expecting never happens; it’s always something that sneaks up the other way. Mankind had been trembling about destruction through war, and had been having bad dreams of cities blown to pieces along with their inhabitants, of animals killed, too, and of the very vegetation blighted off the face of the earth. But actually mankind seemed merely to have been removed rather neatly, with a minimum of disturbance.”
Isherwood “Ish” WIlliams is out in the wilderness rock climbing to clear his head from the buzz of civilization when he puts his hand in the wrong crevice. He hears the rattle and feels the strike.
He is pretty sure he is going to die.
He gets back to the cabin, uses the snake kit to suck as much of the poison out as he can. He becomes too sick and too woozy to drive. He waits for someone to find him. As his time to return comes and passes he becomes angry that no one has come looking for him, not family or friends.
He doesn’t die and when he recovers enough to drive into town he finds only dust motes and echoes. A virulent disease has swept through humanity, killing indiscriminately, collapsing society as easily as a biker crushes a beer can.
The one thing that we have always been able to count on is our genetic diversity. There always seems to be a fraction of a percent of humanity that is immune to whatever nature has to throw at us.
“As for man, there is little reason to think that he can in the long run escape the fate of other creatures, and if there is a biological law of flux and reflux, his situation is now a highly perilous one. During ten thousand years his numbers have been on the upgrade in spite of wars, pestilences, and famines. This increase in population has become more and more rapid. Biologically, man has for too long a time been rolling an uninterrupted run of sevens.”
It was just our turn to roll snake eyes.
He goes through this period of time swamped with a buffet of feelings. Ish never quite feels lucky to be alive, but certainly reaches varying levels of depression as the extent of the devastation becomes apparent.
But for now the electricity still flows through San Francisco. Street lights come on as if the hand of humanity was still guiding the way. For a while he just goes about his life. There is plenty of food. He makes friends with a dog. He reads books, but his curiosity gets the better of him and he explores the city. He finds people, a few stragglers, still alive. He decides that he has to see what has happened to America.
The Earth reclaims what man has built, quickly.
There is too much of everything now, too many cars, food spoiling, too many clothes, piles of things that no one might need for a thousand years. He drives across country and finds a survivor here or there. Some survivors can’t cope and suicide rates skyrocket among the few fortunate/unfortunate people who find themselves facing a new world bereft of family and friends. He discovers the the virulent entity has been thorough, unrelenting, all-embracing, and taken more far more than it has left.
He returns to San Francisco and finds a woman who becomes his wife. She moves in with him because, he...well...had a house full of books and anybody who has moved books before can relate to the fact that it is easier to move to the books than move the books to you.
Ish uses the term this is a New Deal to describe this new era which was ironic given that this book was written in 1949. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies had just been enacted in the decade before.
The book moves languidly along. There is never this feeling of desperation or Mad Max situations or really even scenes of high tension. George R. Stewart was more interested in exploring cultures, how they emerge, how they survive, what motivates them to innovate.
Being in the San Francisco area with a temperate climate, they don’t have to fight weather. The city is full of canned foods, weapons, bullets, clothes, and anything else they could possibly need. When the power does finally go out they switch to candles and lanterns. When the water shuts down they find streams and they dig latrines. Life overall is relatively easy almost better than before. Ish is the only intellectual in his tribe of survivors, soon offspring start to become plentiful. Ish finds himself to be the only one concerned about teaching them the ability to read. The only one that sees the importance of sharing a vision of the world through the lens of science.
Ish has a dream of restoring the world, to bring back the civilization that took several millennium to create, but to the new generations who never lived in that world they have all they need now. To bring that world back to life will take more labor than they are willing to give. They respect what he knows and even look on him, superstitiously, as a deity of knowledge, but they lack the curiosity or the desire to learn what he knows.
Ish reluctantly gives ground on his expectations. He soon realizes that instead of building an ice machine, or aqueducts, or keeping cars in working order that he needs to give them something they will desperately need when the supply of bullets finally run out, something that can be made with a sharp blade and a handful of feathers...the bow and arrow.
Original Ace Publishing painting for the 1949 cover.
Certainly another very different take on the post-apocalyptic world. Some of the complaints that people may have about this book are the same ones that they had about On the Beach, that there isn’t enough action, not enough tension, not enough claws and teeth, but those situations were not of interest to Stewart. He wanted to explore what we need. Why civilization is necessary? What do we gain from it? Are we happier in a penthouse apartment or would we be happier if we had to forage for food every day? One thing that Stewart and I can agree on is: “Men go and come, but earth abides.” At least I like to believe the earth will ultimately survive us.
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Read information about the authorGeorge Rippey Stewart was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his only science fiction novel Earth Abides (1949), a post-apocalyptic novel, for which he won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was dramatized on radio's Escape and inspired Stephen King's The Stand .
His 1941 novel Storm , featuring as its protagonist a Pacific storm called Maria, prompted the National Weather Service to use personal names to designate storms and inspired Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe to write the song "They Call the Wind Maria" for their 1951 musical "Paint Your Wagon." Storm was dramatized as "A Storm Called Maria" on a 1959 episode of ABC's Disneyland. Two other novels, Ordeal by Hunger (1936) and [https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...] (1948) also evoked environmental catastrophes.
Stewart was a founding member of the American Name Society in 1956-57, and he once served as an expert witness in a murder trial as a specialist in family names. His best-known academic work is Names on the Land A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (1945; reprinted, New York Review Books, 2008). He wrote three other books on place-names, A Concise Dictionary of American Place-Names (1970), Names on the Globe (1975), and American Given Names (1979). His scholarly works on the poetic meter of ballads (published under the name George R. Stewart, Jr.), beginning with his 1922 Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia, remain important in their field.
His 1959 book Pickett's Charge is a detailed history of the final attack at Gettysburg.
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